The following blog post is a Q&A with the newest Simple Habit Expert Sah D’Simone. You can listen to Sah on Simple Habit here.
SH: Tell us a little about your background and how you found your practice.
Sah: There’s a word in sanskrit, ekagrata, that literally means single pointed focus. I think that and a little sass– sums up my personality well. When I point my mind at something, a goal or challenge, I go all in. There is no halfway with me. As you can probably imagine, this can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on what you focus on. By my mid-20s, I had gained a certain amount of success in the fashion industry, but was still lost inside. All the glamor wasn’t addressing the persistent feeling of emptiness I was carrying. After a long battle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation, I decided something had to change. I bought a plane ticket to India and began my journey into spirituality, mental health, and wellness. I studied with some of the world’s most enlightened masters. I dug deep into the crevices of my mind, and reconnected with my heart. I really had the opportunity to see how I talked to myself for so many years; I got to see how vicious my inner critic has been, and how much of that self-criticism I’ve allowed to take root into my core. It was the first time I had become so silent inside and had space to be able to witness the chatter playing out in my mind. The practices I learned became my life raft and gave me a way out of my suffering.
SH: What inspired you to become an expert in your field?
Sah: To be an expert to me means being someone who lives with integrity, someone who lives the practice and then shares it with others. I had such an incredible life changing experience overseas, that I found myself wanting to dig deeper and deeper. Expertness happened out of necessity. I needed to really take charge of my internal world and my life, and take it back from all the negativity I had allowed to dominate my life growing up. When I came back to New York and started to integrate these practices into my daily life, I began to look around and see all the suffering right in front of my eyes. 1 in 5 New Yorkers suffers from a mental illness. 68% of people have experienced a trauma before age 18. All of these statistics became very real to me, not just numbers in a report. I saw their reality all around me. I saw that reality in myself, in my own experience. As I journeyed into my own healing, I recognized a great need and a great desire within myself to share the healing with others.
SH: How did you learn to prioritize your mental health? Are there any tips or tricks you recommend?
Sah: I didn’t have a choice to prioritize my mental health. I had to learn to prioritize my mental health, or else I wouldn’t have been able to keep living. My situation was so dire in my early 20s, I was experiencing so much suffering and turmoil, that I think if something hadn’t changed with my priorities, I wouldn’t have survived. I was struggling with so many unconscious demons: internalized homophobia, shame, guilt– through cultivating an intentional practice that was grounded in the science of psychology, I was able to decide for myself whether or not I wanted them in my life. It is impossible for me to separate the science of mental health with my spiritual practice. They are one in the same.
To make sure I continue prioritizing mental health in my life, I created a list of non-negotiables: things that I commit to completing every day that are a part of a mental health hygiene. For me that means setting time aside for meditation, prayer, breathwork, dance and running. I commit to an intentional plant-based lifestyle. I try to laugh often and acknowledge all the things in life that I am grateful for, all of the people who have helped me along the way, and everything that I have in this life.
SH: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Sah: “The picture we present to ourselves of who we think we ought to be obscures who we really are.” ― Mark Epstein, The Trauma of Everyday Life
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Sah D’Simone is a meditation teacher, international bestselling author, transformational speaker and coach. His book, 5-Minute Daily Meditations, has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Dutch. Born in Brazil, Sah came to the U.S. at the age of 16, working for over a decade in the fashion industry, becoming the co-founder and creative director of Bullett Magazine. Despite his immense success, the high stakes culture of the fashion industry led Sah down a path of addiction and depression, eventually opening the doorway to a different way of life. In 2012, he walked away from his career in fashion and began an intensive search for health and well-being, traveling to Nepal, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Europe to study with some of the most prolific masters of our time. After immersing himself in practice for several years, Sah returned to the states, dedicating his life to helping others to live in alignment and achieve their highest potential. Sah has masterfully synthesized the ancient techniques of meditation, contemplative psychotherapy, breath work, and plant based nutrition for a modern and accessible approach to well-being. His infectious enthusiasm for healing and self-love has built a devoted fan base. Sah has worked with clients like Kanye West, Google, MoMa, American Express, Cannes Lion, the United Nations, New Balance, Bloomingdales, and Havas. Sah also shares his mission with underserved communities, advocating for mental health and well-being in the LGBTIQ and POC communities.